This has certainly been a horrendously difficult and unsettling week for everyone involved with Brentford FC, players, management, staff and supporters alike. Head Coach Marinus Dijkhuizen and his assistant, Roy Hendriksen were both sacked on Monday and replaced until the end of the season by Lee Carsley, whose job as Development Squad Coach went to Bees stalwart and legend, Kevin O’Connor.
On the field, Saturday’s narrow and frankly undeserved home defeat by Sheffield Wednesday was followed by a dreadful performance on Tuesday when a totally listless, rudderless and dispirited Brentford team limped to a two-nil defeat by Birmingham City which was immediately followed by Lee Carsley’s naive and unexpected, if totally honest post-match admission that he had no real wish or desire to become a football manager and would therefore be likely to leave the club once his spell in charge was completed. Comments that understandably, have not been well received by Bees supporters.
I can’t speak for anybody else, but my head is certainly spinning and reeling trying to process and assimilate so much traumatic and negative activity in such a short period of time and I have already written at length about my own analysis and reading of the situation.
Over the last couple of days I have received many comments from readers of my material and here is a selection of what they have said and their views on the current situation:
Former player Richard Poole starts the ball rolling:
Well things certainly look gloomy with a newly appointed head coach who does not think he will be there next season and a team with no apparent motivation, something I find hard to understand.
When we were fighting against re-election in 1974 everyone wanted to do their best and the players who were pulling out of tackles or not giving their all were simply replaced by other pros or even by young players like me who were maybe not good enough but who ran theirs sock off for the club.
Yes I know football has changed a lot and yes this is not the Fourth Division we are talking about, but for God’s sake just give me a team of eleven players whatever their age who give their all for the club and I cannot believe that there are not a couple of players in the Development Squad who cannot step up to the plate and help the first team. They might not be quite up to the standard required but I am sure they would give their total commitment.
As for the coaching side, maybe the owner will admit that things aren’t working quite as anticipated and put his new-fangled approach on ice and appoint a real manager for the time being.
Come on you Bees, at least show us that you’ve got guts and will give your all. Whatever the outcome we are behind you.
Rebel Bee was more outspoken:
I think we have to admit to a lack of quality and physicality too. The team on show on Tuesday was a League One outfit at best. We seem to have signed continental footballers who lack touch and technique – the two things that you would expect them to have whilst they adapt to the more physical side of the English game.
I’m so down on our club right now.
I actually feel very emotional about it. Five years of intelligent endeavour to build something special is being wrecked before our eyes – with both things initiated by the same person.
What Matthew Benham does next will determine his legacy and our future – I doubt he’ll read my words, but just in case, please Matthew come out and speak to us, and let’s try to get everyone back on board before it’s too late.
Mike Rice was also concerned:
Last night we were a League One quality side with three passengers: Vibe, Djuricin and Kerschbaumer. We were playing another League One side who were incredibly well organised and did all of the right things at the right time.
We are ill-equipped to fight a relegation battle, but we are in one.
I excused Lee Carsley last night because he probably didn’t know he definitely had the gig until last Sunday. I was saying that the jury was out and maybe he was a wonder coach. He would be able to turn things around despite not having any track record at this level.
Now I learn that he expects to go at the end of the season, which sounds to me like he had his arm twisted to take the job. To say that is not encouraging is an understatement.
Perhaps the owner should get in touch with Ian Holloway or Neil Warnock to hold Lee’s hand?
And get in some Championship calibre players on loan as well to replace our foreign imports who will take too long to become acclimatised, as well as some of our League One standard players.
beesyellow22 was equally realistic:
Another excellent article and the reason why there’s no point in me writing a blog myself – after all, you say very eloquently what I think most of us are thinking!
Not much to add to the excellent comments above, except to agree with many of them. Key points for me:
1. Letting Warburton go or engineering a situation where he felt he had to go was a MASSIVE mistake by the club. As much as we owe him for getting us where we are today, the blame lies squarely at the owner’s door.
2. The mathematical model should have been put on hold for as long as Warbs was with us. For goodness’ sake, we finished FIFTH IN THE CHAMPIONSHIP last season! After years of languishing in lower league obscurity! Surely Benham should have parked his new approach, kept our best manager ever and held onto Warburton for another season at least?
3. Dijkhuizen was a nice guy, but to coin a phrase, “nice guys finish last” (or nineteenth as things currently stand). He was the WRONG APPOINTMENT and hopelessly out of his depth. I sit next to a Derby fan at work and we talk about the Championship all the time.
As he puts it, it is a RELENTLESS league! Not amazingly high quality, but you need to be on your A game every single Tuesday and Saturday (with the occasional Friday and Monday thrown in for good measure).
Dijkhuizen simply did not have the experience, wherewithal, tactical nous or, I’m afraid, connection with the players to be successful. Yes, eight games (actually nine, counting the battering by Oxford) is not nearly long enough to prove yourself – but anyone who watched the Reading match or the first half versus Wednesday will know how awful we were, and I’m afraid that when it comes to preparation, team selection and tactics, the manager ultimately has to carry the can.
4. To coin another phrase, where Bournemouth went for evolution, we went for revolution. Too much, too soon. And one area where the club really failed was in anticipating just how many of our key players from last season would want to leave after Warburton departed.
Yes, Moses may well have left anyway, but I honestly believe tha had Warburton remained, the likes of Dallas and Gray would have felt more inclined to stay too (and obviously Douglas would not have been forced out the door).
5. The question has already been posed, but why on earth has Ryan Woods been stuck on the bench? Yes, he made a mistake against Leeds, but when he came on against Wednesday he looked absolutely sensational – but he was only given FIVE MINUTES!!! To me, he is the future and we should be building a team around him.
Dijkhuizen should have shown positive intent against Wednesday, started with Woods and Canos and gone for the win from minute one. If I was Benham and had spent the best part of a million pounds on League One’s most exciting young player, I wouldn’t have been happy that my head coach wasn’t giving him a game.
I am sad for Dijkhuizen and I am angry at the club we all love so much, but I am also excited and pleased that we now have another chance to hopefully start the season afresh from this point on. Like most Bees fans, when I go to a game I want to see passion, commitment, heart and some semblance of a plan based on intelligent attacking football that primarily involves keeping the ball on the deck.
In the games I’ve seen against Ipswich, Reading and SHeffield Wednesday this has simply not been the case (sadly the only home game I missed was the only game we won). I appreciate that we have shown flashes of good play here and there, but here and there is not enough – especially not at this level. For that reason Marinus had to go and I am looking forward to an English (Irish) manager who will hopefully take the passion we all feel for the club, channel that to the players and begin to turn things around on the pitch. Even with all the injuries, we still have the makings of a good team. Let’s now have the confidence to show it.
He also commented again after the last home defeat, as follows:
Another great, if deeply depressing, post, Greville. Also very insightful comments by Mike and Rebel Bee. I wasn’t at the game and it shows how not actually witnessing it first hand can give you such a false impression. At nil-nil I thought it was looking okay, with possibly our first clean sheet of the season coming. But reading about what actually happened has only served to darken my mood even further.
The worst thing about all of this for me, are the words coming out of Carsley’s mouth. In the interview with Billy Reeves, he sounds flat, downbeat and pretty disinterested in the whole thing. In fact, he actually uses the word “detached” when asked about his emotions. He also says, “I wasn’t looking to be a manager” and “you just have to get on with it.”
What kind of response is that? If he was so reluctant to take the role, then why on earth did he accept when it was offered? What kind of example does that set for the players – to say nothing of the fans?
Let’s make no mistake, we are now in a relegation battle. We can probably expect to get battered on Saturday and should maybe write that one off right now, but come the next home game against Rotherham we need to be totally focused on the task in hand, because only a win will do.
The way I feel at the moment is confused, nervous and incredibly upset. Did Crown / Benham / Devlin / Ankersen / Giles have any idea of the way Carsley felt? You would surely have to say no, otherwise why give him the role in the first place? Did they see him as being so honest with the press? Again, you would surely have to say no. It makes us look amateur – to say nothing of the way our Championship rivals will surely seize on it to gain the initiative when they play us.
Will Carsley still be there in a month’s time? I honestly don’t think so. Forget all this “leaving at the end of the season / I don’t want to be a manager” nonsense. We need a passionate figurehead in charge who can galvanise the players and inspire the fans. Sorry Mr. Benham, but that person is not Lee Carsley.
What’s Neil Warnock up to these days?
Gary Hennell commented as follows:
I think the decision for this sacking was constructed far earlier than this week. How many of us would succeed in a new company where your equipment is broken (pitch), your best staff dispersed to your competitors and then replaced with untried temps who are learning on the job and then, to compound it all your ace sales team all end up on long term sick leave?
The manager’s fault? Hardly. I just wish Crown and Ankersen stood up and said “you know, we got this gamble wrong.” I would have way more faith and respect for that, as this is the path we have publically stated we want to follow (no harm in that) – who of us has never made a management mistake? But it was their mistake not the manager’s.
Too many foreign league so-called bargains, not enough Championship tried and tested players – a lesson learned concerning the right mix. As for Marinus, coming from Excelsior to the Championship was in my view a step too far, or maybe too early but he was also not given the right tools in place to succeed by Brentford.
Culture differences, game pace and media scrutiny make the Championship brutal and possesion is pointless if you do nothing with it.
Last weekend I listened to some clever nitwit on Sky annouce that the team with the highest level of possesion in the entire football league was Brentford – he then followed by adding “and lets look at their league position.” I did use a few unrepeatable words at the telly, which the wife overheard. The media wants us to fail at this soooooo badly, make no mistake about that.
I do still think we are in Warburton withdrawal mode (me included). I need to get over that. Be brave – stand up and say it – we gambled on our manager and came up short and we sold off too much talent before being certain of its replacement.
Don’t be so hell bent that every purchase or decision has to be totally radical because that is what the media expect of us now.
I think the Carsley decision makes much more sense in terms of his pedigree, international experience and internal club knowledge. It really is a massive chance for Mr. Carsley, who I think stands to receive more support than his predecessor did, which seems unfair on reflection.
I suppose what I really wish is that we don’t try to play bargain hunting with our managers like we do with our squad acquisitions and the Marinus appointment had that feel to it.
In the meantime I hope that Carsley can ramp up the tempo and the spirit for tonight’s game – I get the feeling Birmingham might smell blood and I hope we can get after them from the get go.
How badly does our team need a man manager right now?
His thoughts were equally strong after the match:
We need a determined leader/manager to drag their sorry backsides out of the sea of self pity and get stuck in and raise the game tempo. I travelled four hours last night to see Brentford play at such a pedestrian pace that you would have thought we were the away team trying to kill a game off. Honestly, what team in this division cannot defend when provided with over five minutes to set up their defence for a corner?
What I can’t understand is it was blindingly obvious last year that the Championship respects and fears pace in equal measure. The money we received for Odubajo and Gray confirms that. So when did we decide that seventy-five percent possession and zero penetration played at snail’s pace will return better results?
So the thought occurred to me, the statistical models indentified them as good enough – but do they play like they believe they are?
The brand of football being played right now is choking the flair and inventiveness out of the players and it is as much crushing as boring to watch, as you rightly pointed out.
Interestingly, by comparison did you know…..
I read that one of the first things that Warburton did when he arrived at Ibrox was post a big sign up in the dressing room….do you know what he had written on that sign?
SEND THEM HOME HAPPY in big capital letters above the dressing room door. Hmmm, can it really be that simple?
Some fans are saying don’t criticise or Matthew Benham may pull the plug, if he is truly “one of our own” this won’t happen, he’ll work his socks off to fix this and regain all of our trust and goodwill. If he does withdraw support then you’d have to ask what sort of a club would we have become anyway, and was the price of having such a benefactor worth paying?
He must have a hard and at times thankless task, but some communication and engagement now is not so much to ask for, surely?
It has been really tough going so far, the thrill of my next Brentford fix has been erased overnight. I am sad to admit that I will not be at Derby and need the international break to get over the last week. I’ll never give up on my team but it kills me to see others thinking of doing so.
John Hirdle also has questions to ask about our recruitment policy:
Matthew Benhams judgement must surely come under scrutiny. He had months to scour Europe for a replacement for Warburton and came up with a guy he has got rid of after eight games and then gives the job to someone who was under his nose all the time. I don’t know how much say Dijkhuizen had in transfers but surely the mass signings of unproven foreign players with no experience of English Championship level by Benham, Giles and Ankersen was a mistake. Coupled with the departures of several key players and our horrendous injury run it is no surprise that we have struggled.
After the debacle of the Reading home game, performances since have undoubtedly improved and despite rumours of training ground unrest I have seen nothing to suggest that the players haven’t been giving it their all for club and manager on the pitch.
The jury remains firmly out on the effect of the stats based system in my opinion. We remain totally ineffective and impotent on free kicks and corners despite expensively assembled specialist coaches employed in this field.
One also wonders how stats from the second division of a European League correlate with the level we are now playing at.
As always we will rally round and get behind the new manager who may well turn out to be an inspired choice, he will hopefully be helped by returning players soon.
Interesting, passionate and well thought through comments that make depressing reading at what is a pretty depressing time for us all.